Each presidential election focuses on at least one key controversial issue. In recent years, candidates have been asked to defend their viewpoints on gay marriage, abortion, war and more. As the United States gears up for the 2016 presidential election, it is likely that a controversial topic that will be highly debated is the legalization of marijuana.

Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and a number of other presidents all the way back to Thomas Jefferson and George Washington smoked weed. Twenty-one states (including the nation’s capital) have legalized medical marijuana, starting with California back in 1996, twenty years prior to the date of the coming election.

Two states have also legalized recreational use of marijuana and a number of others will surely follow. It is only a matter of time before the whole country follows suit.

So, what do we need to take into consideration as we head towards a society of recreational pot smoking?


According to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, cannabis is considered a Schedule 1 Drug. That means that, regardless of what a state’s law says, federal law states that, among other things, the drug has no medical use and has the potential for abuse. Dating as far back as 1972 — two years after the Act came to be — legislatures proposed that cannabis be rescheduled. So far, all attempts have failed. According to High Times, Obama is on board for rescheduling the drug. Barring the election of a Reagan-era Republican president, this process will only gain more momentum with time.

Second-hand smoke

One of the delightful pleasures of leaving work on a temperate Friday afternoon is the thought of getting home, going out to your porch/deck/patio/whatever, and kicking back with a cold beer. It is not uncommon for my wife and I to sit on the porch after doing yard work on a Saturday afternoon and drink a beer while our young kids ride their bikes down the street.

In moderation, it is nothing more than a satisfying beverage. Intaking tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive part of cannabis, through traditional methods of smoking pot can result in the effect called a contact high, though. If you are around children, recovering addicts, or simply unwilling participants, this is clearly something you would want to avoid. Newer trends, such as vaporizer pens, may evolve into a means of smoking without impacting those around you.

Education and reeducation 

If and when cannabis use becomes legalized on a federal level, people would need to be properly educated about its impact and side effects. Additionally, countless kids would now need an explanation as to why something they were once told was bad, harmful, addictive, and illegal would then be perfectly fine and normal to use.

Reeducating youth would be an incredibly important step in this process, as it would give the new laws a proper framework and explanation as to why marijuana may now be fine, but Schedule 1 Drugs like LSD and ecstasy are not. (Worth noting: Cocaine is a Schedule 2 Drug due to its medical uses for stopping nosebleeds, controlling pain, and as an anesthetic. So, as far as federal law is concerned: crack > pot.)

Jobs, schools, driving…

There are plenty of rules and regulations governing the use or prohibition of alcohol in schools, the workplace and/or on the road. Legislatures, employers and the like would need to create new regulations for the use of marijuana in such scenarios. New laws would likely include a legal age of smoking, probably at the age of 21.

The nightlife

Plenty of bars cater to niche markets. There are cigar bars, rum bars, whiskey bars and so on. A new breed of restaurateurs could emerge to cater to the pot-seeking crowd. Adventurous trendsetters could seek to mix cannabis oils in various dishes, drinks and, of course, baked goods.

One certainty

According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, in “the United States, SAMHSA (2010) estimated a lifetime prevalence of cannabis use of 51.6 %.” That’s a lot of potheads, which could be a motivating factor for decriminalizing cannabis use. Why? Because, once the government starts regulating it, they can tax the living hell out of it.

Hello munchies, goodbye national debt.